April 14, 2010

Test Spin: Dr. Dog

Print More

Shame, Shame is the first album after Philadelphia natives Dr. Dog’s acclaimed Fate, and they seem dead-set on replicating that success. It’s the first album recorded outside of their own home studio, but as those old sages Blackalicious once said, “his sound is played, he forgot to change it.” The hopelessly heartwarming honky-tonk pianos and swooping harmonies that filled their previous albums come to the fore once again in Shame, Shame, and will once again surely provoke comparisons to The Beatles, The Band and CSNY.That being said, these Philly boys bare a little bit more of their soul on this one, invoking images of home and taking some songs into the shadows where they once stood in the sunlight. When all the pieces click, their choruses and vocal patterns are truly beautiful, most notably in “Someday” and “Station.” Lyrics have never been Dr. Dog’s strong suit … they’re by no means bad, just a little less heart-wrenching and quotable than bands who go in with that in mind. This is an album that will be renowned for its sound rather than its poetry — and that, frankly, is just fine.  Instead of just lifting from various classic rock bands, this album sees Dr. Dog peek out into some psychedelic combinations, taking chances here and there that were missing on previous albums — eerie “Blue Jay Way” vocal effects appear and disappear throughout the album, while even Animal Collective-esque electronica seeps through the cracks onto “Where’d All The Time Go?” Could it be, Dr.?Overall, however, the album doesn’t take the leap forward it could have. It certainly doesn’t disappoint, but the doo-wop choruses and farmhouse guitar lines that made Fate such a great album appear again and again on Shame, Shame, proving tested theories effective. There’s the childlike nostalgia that has become a mainstay in the band’s arsenal, the stoic three-chord piano parts and the now-perfected vocal layers that pop out between sunny progressions. B+

Original Author: Graham Corrigan